By business reporter Michael Janda
Updated Tue at 3:55pmTue 14 Oct 2014, 3:55pm
PHOTO: Unions argue the 457 visa is often abused to bring in cheaper foreign workers. (ABC News: Dan Conifer)
The Federal Government is expanding the investor visa scheme and making it easier to hire workers on 457 visas.
The Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program was established under the previous Labor government with the aim of encouraging foreign investment.
The SIV gives a pathway to permanent residency for people who invest at least $5 million in Australia for at least four years.
The Abbott Government is proposing to create a new Premium Investor Visa (PIV) which offers a faster 12-month pathway to permanent residency for those who invest at least $15 million.
Changes are also being planned to the SIV, which the Government says include “streamlining and speeding up visa processing”, more promotion of the program internationally and strengthening integrity protections.
The criteria for eligible investments are also being change so that they align with “the Government’s national investment priorities”.
These criteria will be determined by the Federal Government’s Austrade agency in consultation with the key economic and industry portfolios.
Austrade will also become a nominating body for the SIV, complementing the current state and territory governments’ role as nominators, and will be the the only body that can nominate applicants for the PIV.
The PIV will be introduced from July 1, 2015, while the SIV changes will take place during 2014-15.
At the same time, the Federal Government has also responded to a review of the 457 skilled worker visa program.
“The Government will streamline the processing of sponsorship, nomination and visa applications to reward low risk applicants and refocus compliance and monitoring activities on high risk applicants,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.
It will also set English language requirements flexibility with regard to the industry and occupation for the visa applicant and increase the sponsorship approval period for 12 to 18 months for start-up businesses.
However, the minimum wage for 457 visa holders will remain at $53,900, ahead of a review within the next two years.
The Government also said other safeguards will also remain in place.
“It will continue to be a requirement that a foreign worker receives at least the same market rates and conditions that are paid to an Australian doing the same job in the same workplace,” it said in the statement.
Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-14/federal-government-expands-investor-457-visa-schemes/5812920document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);
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